Christ is the chief shepherd, the leader of his flock: come, let us adore him.
Year: B(I). Psalm week: 1. Liturgical Colour: White.
Saint Birinus was sent to England as a missionary by Pope Honorius I about the year 634; on his way, he was consecrated bishop in Genoa. He had intended to work in a remote part of Britain but when he found that the West Saxons were still pagan he stayed among them and baptised their King and a good number of his followers during his fifteen years’ apostolate. He died about 650 and the main Church of the West Saxons which he had established at Dorchester-on-Thames was later moved to Winchester, as were the relics of Saint Birinus.
Saint Birinus (-649)
Birinus was a Frank, had been ordained a bishop in Genoa. He was sent to Wessex by Pope Honorius I, arriving in 634 at the port of Hamwic, now in the St Mary’s area of Southampton. He had intended to work in a remote part of Britain but when he found that the West Saxons were still pagan he stayed among them. He baptized the West Saxon king Cynegils, probably in 635. The king granted him the See of Dorchester, where he established a church. He is reputed to have baptised the king’s son and his grandson (and to have been godfather to the latter). During his 15-year apostolate, he founded churches across Berkshire and Buckinghamshire. He died on 3 December 649, and it is thought that his relics were later taken to Winchester, the capital of Wessex, when the See was moved from Dorchester to Winchester by St Hedda.
Saint Hedda (-705)
Hedda (Haeddi), whose feast is celebrated in Winchester on this day, was educated at Whitby, and ordained bishop in 676 by Theodore of Canterbury. He was appointed Bishop of the West Saxons, and moved his See from Dorchester to Winchester, which transformed it not only into the ecclesiastical centre of the kingdom but also for a time its capital. He died in 705.
Other saints: St John Almond (c.1565-1612)
John Almond (or Lathom or Molyneux) was born at Allerton near Liverpool of Catholic parents about 1565 and went to school at Much Woolton. After studying at Reims he went to the English College in Rome, where in due course he was ordained priest. In 1602 he returned to England as a secular priest and ministered to Catholics there. He was arrested briefly in 1608, and then again in 1612. In November of that year, seven priests had escaped from prison, and this may have sharpened the zeal of those who interrogated him. He displayed to the last great skill in argument; the account of his death describes him as “a reprover of sin, a good example to follow, of an ingenious and acute understanding, sharp and apprehensive in his conceits and answers, yet complete with modesty, full of courage and ready to suffer for Christ, that suffered for him.” He refused to sign the Oath of Allegiance in the form in which it was offered him, but offered to swear that he bore in his heart “so much allegiance to King James as he, or any Christian king, could expect by the law of nature, or the positive law of the true Church, be it which it will, ours or yours.” He was committed to Newgate and within a few months was brought to trial as a seminary priest. Having been duly convicted he was hanged, drawn, and quartered on 5 December 1612 at Tyburn, London.
Other saints: Bl Bartholomew Fanti (c.1428-1495)
5 Dec (where celebrated)
Bartholomew Fanti was born in Mantua around the year 1428. In 1452 he is known to have already been a Carmelite priest of the Congregation of Mantua. For thirty-five years at the Order’s church in Mantua he was the spiritual director and rector of the Confraternity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, for which he composed a rule and statutes. He was a teacher of Bl Baptist Spagnoli and is especially remembered for his devotion to and love of the Eucharist. He died in 1495 in Mantua.
About the author of the Second Reading in today's Office of Readings:
Second Reading: St Cyprian (210 - 258)
Cyprian was born in Carthage and spent most of his life in the practice of the law. He was converted to Christianity, and was made bishop of Carthage in 249. He steered the church through troubled times, including the persecution of the emperor Decius, when he went into hiding so as to be able to continue looking after the church. In 258 the persecution of the emperor Valerian began. Cyprian was first exiled and then, on the 14th of September, executed, after a trial notable for the calm and courtesy shown by both sides.
Cyprian’s many letters and treatises shed much light on a formative period in the Church’s history, and are valuable both for their doctrine and for the picture they paint of a group of people in constant peril of their lives but still determined to keep the faith.
Liturgical colour: white
White is the colour of heaven. Liturgically, it is used to celebrate feasts of the Lord; Christmas and Easter, the great seasons of the Lord; and the saints. Not that you will always see white in church, because if something more splendid, such as gold, is available, that can and should be used instead. We are, after all, celebrating.
In the earliest centuries all vestments were white – the white of baptismal purity and of the robes worn by the armies of the redeemed in the Apocalypse, washed white in the blood of the Lamb. As the Church grew secure enough to be able to plan her liturgy, she began to use colour so that our sense of sight could deepen our experience of the mysteries of salvation, just as incense recruits our sense of smell and music that of hearing. Over the centuries various schemes of colour for feasts and seasons were worked out, and it is only as late as the 19th century that they were harmonized into their present form.
|Mid-morning reading (Terce)||Isaiah 4:2 ©|
That day, the branch of the Lord shall be beauty and glory, and the fruit of the earth shall be the pride and adornment of Israel’s survivors.
|Noon reading (Sext)||Isaiah 4:3 ©|
Those who are left of Zion and remain of Jerusalem shall be called holy and those left in Jerusalem, noted down for survival.
|Afternoon reading (None)||Isaiah 61:11 ©|
As the earth makes fresh things grow, as a garden makes seeds spring up, so will the Lord make both integrity and praise spring up in the sight of the nations.